February 12, 1947. As an elegant crowd that included the likes of actresses Rita Hayworth and Viven Leigh assembled outside 20 Avenue Montaigne, Christian Dior, at the age of 42, was waiting to unveil his latest brainchild. Ninety looks painstakingly crafted with sunray pleats and yards of embroidery were introduced in tandem with a new floral fragrance, Miss Dior (named for his sister Catherine), and delighted those in attendance.
The facade of Dior's 20 Avenue Montaigne boutique.
A portrait of Mr. Dior.
He had taken the postwar woman out of her prudent, utilitarian slump and made her bloom like the bouquets of blue delphiniums, pink sweat peas, and white lilies of the valley that filled the dove-grey walls of his new maison. Among his muses was French model Tania Chez who emerged in a two-piece suit: a full pleated skirt made of wool crepe paired with a white silk jacket. The look was labelled with the number eight, Christian’s lucky number. “It’s such a revolution, such a New Look!” said Harper’s Bazaar editor-in-chief Carmel Snow. Those words could have rolled off any other fashion critic’s tongue but as fate would have it, it immediately put Christian’s name on the map. Paris and America were won over. Soon, the world followed.
Tania Chez models look number eight at the unveiling of Christian Dior's inaugural collection.
The Bar Suit
The cinced waists and full skirts of Dior's iconic New Look showed off a woman's seductive curves.
Six decades and eight years later, many movements have happened at the house of Dior. Its Corolle skirt and Bar suit have been revisited and reinvented time and time again. So has its moniker fragrance, changing the look of its bottle as a new generation of women come to get to know it. But despite the various changes, one thing remains the same: Dior exalts femininity above all.
Excerpt is taken from the “C’est La Vie” Inside The Trade feature in Preview’s October 2015 issue.
Images courtesy of Dior